Foundation always starts on the ground. For any standing posture, your feet will be on the ground more than anything else, so building a strong foot foundation is crucial.
Think about the Handstand and how important it is to keep your fingers spread. If your fingers aren’t spread properly, you might have a harder time performing the posture. This same logic goes for the feet and standing postures.
Here are my three tips to help you maintain proper feet alignment in yoga and in your practice.
1. Place your feet flat on the floor and lift your toes.
Let's take Mountain Pose, for example. Stand tall and lift your toes as much as you can. Remember to relax your fingers as well. A natural response in the body is to transfer the stiffness to another area. For some reason, the fingers want to go for the ride!
If you don’t believe this, have someone you know try and watch how his or her fingers stiffen and try to copy the position of the toes without them even realizing it.
2. Now that your toes are lifted, try to spread them.
You can use your fingers to help manipulate them to spread more. Think about how they appear when getting a pedicure with the dividers between your toes—this is your goal. Spread all your toes as far as you can. You can also do this in your downtime; while watching television or reading, you can put your fingers between your toes.
You may be thinking “Ewww!” because for some odd reason, people have this response when it comes to their feet. But they ARE part of your body and they deserve attention too! Next, roll your ankle in a circular motion. This not only helps with the flexibility but it strengthens your foot and ankle muscles as well.
3. Place only the balls of your feet to the ground and press.
Let your weight fall onto this part of your feet at first, getting used to the weight and finding a balance that feels right. Then, apply just your big toes to the floor and let the little toes follow.
Now you know why you often see yogis with their toes spread wide in the air. It has become such a strong part of their practice that it’s second nature. It may look odd, but don’t laugh! So the next time you practice, go on and spread your toes—it’s all part of the process.